2020 QLD Premier Rugby Season Preview: GPS

By Finn Morton; Photo – QRU Media/Brendan Hertel

Jeeps were arguably the team to beat heading into the 2019 finals series after leading the competition in a handful of key stats and going unbeaten against rivals Brothers and UQ during the regular season.

But the defending champions fell short of back-to-back crowns, losing to UQ in the preliminary final after a one-point game was blown out by Jeeps’ poor discipline in the final fifteen minutes.

Head coach Elwee Prinsloo knows where his side went wrong and seems confident that the Gallopers will improve again in 2020, when the season eventually begins.

Overview with Elwee Prinsloo:

“There are some parts of our game that we really wanted to shift in and we’ve worked hard on. We believe that we’ve made some progress in those areas but I suppose the proof will be in the pudding as soon as we start playing against opposition teams,” Prinsloo admitted.

“We don’t want to be a forward dominant team, we want to be able to score tries out wide, we want to be able to score tries through the middle. It’s about evolving our game and getting a better understanding of how we need to adapt against different teams.

“We allowed the boys to be able to find themselves as a group over preseason in terms of who they want to be and what they want to stand for. A couple of the things that came out was ownership being one key and family the other.

“It’s quite special how they want to make sure that they represent their families but also their club as a family. That sort of attitude reflects their preparation on the field, how they’ll play and how they’ll care for each other on the field.

“A lot of things were really positive, so we’ve taken a lot of those things and said well, ‘we understand that we’ve done these things well but to be successful and win premierships, we’re going to have to be more efficient in other areas.’ We want to build on some of those goods things and really work on some of those things that let us down.”

2019: Third (lost to UQ in the preliminary final).

Ins: Abele Atunaisa (Souths), Alex Casey (Souths), Cullen Cooper-Jones (Bond).

Outs: Dan Gorman (retirement), DP De Lange (West Harbour), Jordan Lenac (UQ).

Key areas of improvement: 

“Our maul from a set-piece point of view is something that we need to convert more of our opportunities percentage wise. If we get ten opportunities, we need to convert a minimum of six or seven if we want to be fair dinkum about having a good maul.

“In the last two or three years, we would really bank up the phases, we’d be happy to play 20 phases to play through our opposition. It comes down to finding that space better from an attacking point of view, saying ‘if we can’t go through you, we’re going to go around you or over you.’ Our decision making around how we do that is what we want to get better at this year.”

Player(s) to watch:

“Matt Gicquel is going to be very dangerous especially after his off-season with the Rebels. He’s really matured as a player and really come to light as a leader within the group. He’ll be very good.

“We picked up Abele Atunaisa and he’s in career best perform, he’s had a monster off-season so I’m really keen to see how he goes.

“Jono Kent will be the other interesting one for us I reckon.”

Hopes and expectations for the year:

“I’d be lying if I said that we don’t want to win a premiership. We want to make sure that we are able, at the end of the year, to put our club in a position not just to compete in every grade but to actually win some finals.

“People enjoy winning, people don’t enjoy losing.”

Bold prediction:

“Brothers are going to be very strong, they’ve got a really good list. UQ will always be very strong. Those two and I think Easts will be big movers. Although they’ve been in and around the finals, they are going to be a very strong team consistently this year.

“Souths are a young team, but they’re fit and they have some real x-factor there. Lukas Ripley, he’s just come out of school but he’s playing far better than what you expect at his age.

“Wests have gone on a massive recruitment spree so although they’ve lost a couple, they’ve been able to add some really good forwards in front of those classy backs. Bond are also always tough to play against.

“It’ll be a tough competition, I think it’s going to be the closest one since I’ve been here for the last couple of years.”

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